Rugby's Coaching Carousel Offers Up Funky Times

The coaching carousel of world rugby has slid into gear after the Rugby World Cup. We've seen England appoint their first foreign coach in Eddie Jones while South Africa look set to introduce Allister Coetzee as a replacement for Heyneke Meyer. Closer to home Todd Blackadder has decided that the next Super Rugby season will be his last in charge of the Canterbury Crusaders as they - like England and South Africa - have done nothing more than disappoint recently.

That's the first thought which came to mind when thinking about rugby's coaching world as all three teams are currently lagging behind the leaders in international rugby and Super Rugby. England and South Africa desperately need fresh ideas and a new direction because the All Blacks have flipped the rugby world on its head. Part of the beauty in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup success was the way they played and how they ruthlessly went about dismantling their opponents. 

Both England and South Africa looked as though they were stuck in the middle. They have their roots entrenched in forward-dominated rugby where the ball more often than not doesn't get past the hands or boot of the first-five. While they didn't exactly roll out this style of play at the World Cup, they didn't fully embrace 'running rugby' ... probably because they don't have the required skill level to pull it off to near perfection.

Not only have these two rugby powerhouses (does that make the All Blacks rugby deities?) seen the All Blacks do what they did, they have also seen how important the right coach can be. Michael Cheika got the Wallabies to the a World Cup final after about a year in the job while Meyer and Stuart Lancaster were graced with the ability to build towards the World Cup. New ideas, passion and a splash of funk can work wonders with a rugby team and Cheika basically outlined a blueprint on how to improve a team's fortunes. 

Change gives observers like me more reason to pay attention and while new coaches in England and South Africa should make them even more interesting to follow, change in Canterbury is equally as intriguing. As a Jaffa, the fact that the Crusaders haven't won anything since 2008 suits me down to the ground even if the Auckland Blues have also been shite and whether this has influenced Blackadder's decision to step down or not, it is at the very least a coincidence and change is the result.

We will have a Super Rugby season to let this simmer and patience should be the virtue here as Canterbury fans and rugby folk won't want to play second fiddle to the Waikato Chiefs, Wellington Hurricanes and Otago Highlanders much longer. It's rather mind-boggling that the Crusaders are no longer in that upper echelon.

All this has raised the debate on whether or not to appoint coaches from within or if foreigners should be brought in to offer something new. Personally, I don't see how this can be a debate because it always should be a case of simply appointing the best man for the job. England went the Eddie Jones route, with Jones able to call on plenty of experience as well as the ability to build a rugby program around the national team as he did with Japan. That's what England need and Jones has done it recently, hence his Australian nationality shouldn't matter.

You could argue that both South Africa and Canterbury need someone not connected to South African rugby or Canterbury rugby to switch things up. However, South Africa is an extremely proud rugby nation and Canterbury is a proud province leading me to believe that in Canterbury's case, they may not be keen on someone who has cut their teeth with a different Super Rugby team whether as an assistant or head coach. They have a ready-made replacement in Tabai Matson, which makes sense in every department except for the fresh perspective aspect. Which is why it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

There's no right or wrong way to do this though and all we can do is enjoy the show. The elephant in the room though is the plethora of kiwi coaches who have done respectable jobs with teams like Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Vern Cotter, Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt were/are simply the best men for the job with these nations and pride never got in the way of their appointments.